Pro in Private
There's good wrestling and there's bad wrestling. High among the names that spring to mind when I think "good wrestling" is Jonny Firestorm, 5'5", 155#. He has topped my list for several years, about five years, plus some months. And only a handful of names come close to his.
Never the classic pretty boy, he is something better: sexy. Sexy because he's tough. Sexy because he's capable. Sexy because he's ambitious. It doesn't hurt that he has a wicked sense of humor too. There's nothing exotic or debonaire about Jonny Firestorm. He looks street tough, with a mouth full of pearly white teeth daring you to take a swipe at them. The name "Firestorm" suits his wrestling character. When he's not looking like a bullet, he looks like a firecracker in the first millisecond of explosion, caught on a high-speed camera.
A while back, quite a long while back now, I pissed Jonny off, and he let me know it. Can I describe the combination of alarm and arousal that comes with knowing I'm on a hot young wrestler's shit list? I cannot. Later, he admitted that some (most, I would say) of the offense--which I cannot name without repeating it--was a matter of mistaken identity, another man's crimes glommed on to some poor judgment on my part. Still, the telling off led me to remove a few posts featuring Jonny, and peace was made. But that was long ago. Water under the bridge.
It looks like Firestorm is proudest of his battles with bigger wrestlers--six foot plus bodybuilders who loom over him like evil djinn. He talks about these contests often enough. Inevitably in his matches he throws out a taunt to his opponent to the effect that he has fought and beaten bigger and better. But I especially like him set against other small wrestlers, men within an inch or two of his height, within seven or eight pounds of his weight.
His match against Rudy Cortez, 5'7", 160#, in BG East's just released Pros in Private 8 is one place to see the man at his best. And, for the record, Firestorm operates at his best more consistently than most wrestlers do. But this match stands out. It showcases his skills as a shoot wrestler and a classic heel, his showmanship and flexibility, his willingness to go the limit, the energy with which he sells an opponent's holds, the cruelty and efficiency with which he shuts down an opponent after patiently and relentlessly wearing him down to a nub.
Cortez is a gifted mat wrestler. His quickness and training are evident as we watch him warm up in the ring. The first quarter of this match features straight unscripted grappling. Watching Firestorm and Cortez wrestle free style reminds me of what gets lost in the melodrama of pro wrestling. Traded insults, which, mind you, I enjoy, simply do not measure up to the sounds of men in unrehearsed combat panting for air, of grunting as they strain muscle on muscle, and of skin slapping on skin. In time, though, impatient punches get thrown--hard, resonant punches that ouch. And the heel-face roles become clear and obvious. Both men sell their moves, but Firestorm's sells are Oscar worthy. And then, in phase three of the match, we see a beatdown, as humiliating and sadistic a squash as you're likely to find anywhere.
Pros in Private 8 poses a serious challenge to Ultra Fight 7, until yesterday indisputably my favorite of all BG East bouts--and I've seen many. In UF7, Firestorm takes on Frankie Flave, 5'4#, 160#, a colorful, smooth club kid who is nearly ideal up against Jonny. In so many ways this fight is classic! Firestorm and Flave differ in style: fire versus cool, protege versus newbie, military buzzcut vs party-monster gel, tattoos versus soul patch. This match has sprung to mind many a night, while I lay under cold sheets, needing to warm up and unwind before falling asleep. It's been an old reliable for years. It's too soon to tell, but Firestorm-vs-Cortez may be even better.